Friday, February 12, 2010

Lemon Roasted Chicken

This simple roasted chicken using butter and plenty of lemon, has a bit of a reputation of garnering marriage proposals, enough so that it has been dubbed the engagement chicken.
This simple roasted chicken using butter and plenty of lemon, has a bit of a reputation of garnering marriage proposals, enough so that it has been dubbed the engagement chicken.

Lemon Roasted Chicken

Legend has it, that the original "engagement chicken" first made its appearance almost 30 years ago now, when a Glamour magazine editor shared the recipe for a simple, roasted chicken with an assistant, who prepared it for her boyfriend one evening.

A month later he proposed. While you can read more about the story here, all that aside, it's certainly a great recipe for a roasted chicken. There is just something so comforting about the smell of a chicken roasting, that it's one of my favorite methods of cooking chicken.

This is an adaptation of the original recipe and similar to my Oven Roasted Chicken/Turkey recipe but using a much smaller bird, skipping the brine, and made with extra lemon and no garlic. I do recommend tying the legs together, because it not only looks better, but also cooks better and quicker when it's tied. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Zest lemons.

Remove giblets and neck from the chicken and reserve for another use or discard. Though not necessary, a handy tools to have when roasting a chicken is an appropriate sized roasting pan with rack that will keep the chicken elevated and allow the air and flavor from the aromatics to circulate around the bird. Place chicken on a rack in an oven roasting pan and pat dry with paper towels. 

Juice lemons, reserving the rinds. Set aside 1/3 cup of the juice and reserve the rest.

Combine 1 tablespoon of the zest with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon sugar; set aside.

Loosen the skin and rub the zest mixture under the skin.

Stuff the lemon rinds into the cavity of the chicken.

Smear half the butter all over the chicken and pour the 1/3 cup of lemon juice in the cavity and all over the top of the chicken. 

Combine the chicken stock, water and the remaining zest and juice. 

Pour into the bottom of the roasting pan.

Sprinkle chicken liberally with salt and pepper and place the in-oven thermometer probe, if using, into the thickest part of the thigh.

Because all ovens vary and, according to the size of the chicken, so will cooking time, an in-oven thermometer or at the very least, a basic instant read thermometer is really essential to me. This allows you to check instantly to see if the chicken is at the right temperature and know whether you need additional cooking time, rather than trying to make guesswork of it, and potentially under or over-cooking it.

I highly recommend using an in-oven thermometer anytime you are cooking a big roast or a whole chicken. The one I've been using for a few years now is this Polder brand. It really does help give you confidence in the entire roasting process and they are very reasonably priced.

Reduce oven to 350 degrees F and bake for about 1 hour, depending on size of chicken, until juices run clear and an instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of thigh reads 175 degrees F. Actual time will vary depending on size of chicken. This chicken was slightly over 4 pounds and took right at 1 hour 15 minutes and was cooked perfectly.

To make the lemon butter sauce, carefully transfer pan drippings to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly. 

Remove from heat, stir in the remaining two tablespoons of butter and swirl around until blended in. 

Spoon sauce over the individual servings of chicken.

For more of my favorite chicken recipes, visit my page on Pinterest!

Unable to view the printable below on your device? Tap/click here.

Here's a video guide on carving a cooked chicken which is pretty much how I also do it. One thing - if you have some difficulty at the joints and have a pair of kitchen shears, (which you should get if you don't), using those at the bone joints on both a raw chicken and cooked chicken makes for an easy job of cutting through bone joints.

Posted by on February 12, 2010
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